Thursday, May 16, 2013

"Those whom God hath joined together..."

In "Nuptial Matters" Ruth Graham (no, not the evangelical Ruth Graham) writes approvingly about the desire of couples to make the wedding ceremony personal, particularly in the secular poetry chosen for the ceremony. It is apparently very difficult to do so while maintaining originality and not descending into cliche. The real problem may be precisely that...
Like just about every other betrothed couple in America, we wanted our wedding to be “personal.” ....
There are still oases of resistence...
The Catholic Church still officially forbids couples from including secular readings in the ceremony; Orthodox Jewish ceremonies, too, allow only for set religious readings. ....
The advent of such narcissitic ceremonies does not surprise...
It was around the early 1960s that some Protestant denominations began loosening the strictures of approved readings and music.... Suddenly, weddings were taking place in parks, and couples were writing their own vows. As the journalist Rebecca Mead writes in her 2007 book about contemporary weddings, One True Day, the modern idea is that “a wedding ceremony, like a wedding reception, ought to be an expression of the character of the couple who are getting married, rather than an expression of the character of the institution marrying them.”
Nor does the then favorite wedding poet surprise...
The first poet embraced by backyard brides and grooms was Kahlil Gibran, the best-selling poet and symbol of a vague, mystic, sentimental sort of personal freedom. “Gibran was the big discovery of people in the 1960s, and that got woven into practically every marriage ceremony from then on,”
"For as long as we both shall love"...
.... We hope the marriage lasts forever, but we have to expect the wedding itself will age. Maybe we’ll all look back on our wedding poetry the same way we’ll look back on our wedding photos: with a fondness for those young, goofy people who had no idea how their tastes would change, or what was to happen to them.
In the Christian marriage ceremony there should be limits. Although the loving couple are the occasion for the ceremony, it is a Christian service, and all present — especially the couple — should be mindful of the fact that "we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this company...." Perhaps the readings and music should be chosen with compatibility with traditional Christian priorities in mind rather than endeavoring to make the wedding "personal." It is already personal — the couple are accepting — with joy one hopes — a great deal of personal responsibility.